Bulletin: Secretariat = Nazism, the Klu Klux Klan, and *GASP* the Tea Party!

October 17, 2010 1 comment

Recently I read Roger Ebert’s blog post discussing Andrew O’Hehir’s unusual movie review of Secretariat.   Having already heard Rush Limbaugh poke fun at the same review, I wondered what could cause two men who occupy such different spheres (of media AND of political persuasion) to come to the same conclusion: that O’Hehir’s review is nuts.   So I couldn’t resist heading over to Salon.com and reading it for myself.  (And mind you, Salon.com  is a site I tend to avoid since it’s a hub for such unintentionally funny articles as “George Clooney Meeting With Obama To Put Focus On Sudan Partition Vote” and “Cheers to drinking during pregnancy!”)  You can check it out too, right here.  Try to refrain from drinking milk while you read it.

Interesting, eh?  Let us discuss.

O’Hehir’s review is titled “‘Secretariat’: A gorgeous, creepy American myth.”  In case you didn’t understand the title, the lead declares: “Diane Lane shines in a Tea Party-flavored, Christian-friendly yarn about one big horse and our nation’s past.”  Hmmm…

O’Hehir begins by remarking on the “warm golden light” infusing the cinematography, saying that it is “as if the movie is ablaze with its own crazy sense of purpose.  Or as if someone just off-screen were burning a cross on the lawn.”  Whoa.  Wait a minute.  So this movie has a hidden purpose so horrible that it warrants a  facetious comparison to the Klu Klux Klan?   “I enjoyed it immensely,” O’Hehir surprisingly goes on to say, “flat-footed dialogue and implausible situations and all.” (Well it was based on a true story…)  “Which doesn’t stop me from believing that in its totality ‘Secretariat’ is a work of creepy, half-hilarious master-race propaganda almost worthy of Leni Riefenstahl, and all the more effective because it presents as a family-friendly yarn about a nice lady and her horse.”  (Secretariat is a more insidious piece of propaganda than Triumph of the Will!)

So what, you might ask, is Secretariat propagandizing?  What form of misplaced idealism could be so vile that O’Hehir is compelled to mock it with Ku Klux Klan and Nazism references? 

Be careful, faint of heart, for the following revelation may do some injury to your nerves.  Steel yourself.  Are you ready?  Here, presented to you by Andres O’Hehir, is the sordid truth behind Secretariat “‘Secretariat’…[presents] a honey-dipped fantasy vision of the American past as the Tea Party would like to imagine it, loaded with uplift and glory and scrubbed clean of multiculturalism and social dischord.”

But that’ not all:  “In the world of this movie, strong-willed and independent-minded women like Chenery are ladies first (she’s like a classed-up version of Sarah Palin feminism), left-wing activism is an endearing cute phase your kids go through (until they learn the hard truth about inheritance taxes), and all right-thinking Americans are united in their adoration of a Nietzschean Überhorse, a hero so superhuman he isn’t human at all.”

So let me get this straight.  This film, set in the 1970s, is a monstrous piece of propaganda precisely because it does not focus on the political and social “dischord” of the 1970s.   It dares to show a charming inspirational story and NOT focus on the evils of racism and dischord and especially Richard Nixon, which is what every single film set in the 1970s must do.  For shame, movie!  FOR SHAME!!

So by O’Hehir’s logic, Secretariat should be like this: it should show a grimey, horrific vision  of 1970s America that makes the London of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street look homey, should focus relentlessly on the evils of RACISM!!!1 and the dischord of the Nixon era, should have as its heroine a thoroughly unladylike and classless bag of a woman who is preferably into feminism, should show a culturally diverse group of Americans picketing against the victories of Secretariat (since according to the O’Hehir the idea that all Americans were united in championing this racehorse couldn’t possibly be true), and should show Secretariat himself as a deeply flawed yet human individual who is wrestling with his sexuality and a drug problem against a background of, er,  political multiculturalist turmoil.

Much better.

Further on in his review, O’Hehir does what far too many people of the liberal bent tend to do: find RACISM!!!1 where it doesn’t exist.  Of the character Eddie Sweat, who by the way was a real groomsman who took care of Secretariat, he says: “Eddie dances and sings. He loves Jesus and that big ol’ horse. He is loyal and deferential to Miz Penny, and injects soul and spirit into her troubled life. I am so totally not kidding.”  A talented, Christian groomsman who is a good employee and a good friend–BUT WHO HAPPENS TO BE BLACK!!   Good sweet potato pie, this must be RACISM!!!1

Of Diane Lane’s lovely performance, O’Hehir’s would only concede that it’s “weirdly compelling.”  He says,  “She renders Penny Chenery as an iron-willed superwoman, striking and magisterial but utterly nonsexual, illuminated from within like a medieval saint.”  Utterly nonsexual?   Let me add more to the description of how Chenery should be portrayed in O’Hehir’s version of Secretariat: as a thoroughly unladylike and classless bag of a woman who is preferably into feminism and is involved in a great many NC-17-rated scenes.  After, this character much easier to take seriously than a classy woman who leads a classy life.

Happily, my hero Ebert has stepped forward to say: Really, Andrew?  Really?   “In its reasoning, his review resembles a fevered conspiracy theory,” Ebert writes in his October 7th blog post. “…O’Hehir’s reading is wildly eccentric, and commits a logical error best outlined as: A is evil because it does not acknowledge B. Or perhaps: Although A and B are represented as separate circles, they should overlap.”  I agree wholeheartedly.  (Man, how does Ebert do it?) 

A day after the blog post was written O’Hehir himself stopped by to comment on Ebert’s splendid exercise in rational thought.  Here’s where it gets even more interesting: “Well, gee,” he says with slightly disgruntled amusement.  “Thanks, Roger. (I think.)…I appreciate that you opened and closed this piece with some kind words, and I have great respect for you as a man and a critic. That said, I think the only place where we agree here is when you say, ‘O’Hehir’s reading [of “Secretariat”] is wildly eccentric.’ I’ll cop to that happily — my review of the film was willfully hyperbolic, even outrageous, in hopes of getting people to look at a formulaic Disney sports movie through fresh eyes…My hyperbole in the ‘Secretariat’ review was supposed to be funny, and also to provoke a response. I appear to have succeeded brilliantly with the second part! The results on ‘funny’ are more mixed.”

So to paraphrase: “It was just a joke!”  Really, Andrew?  Really?  You pull out “It was just a joke!” as your defense?  Far too predictable!  But in spite of that, I do think he is sincere.  The problem is that “It’s was just a joke!” doesn’t help his position at all.  O’Hehir may have been using hyperbole in order to get his points across, but that doesn’t change the  CRAZINESS OF THE POINTS THEMSELVES.   For instance, he may not literally think that Secretariat is a piece of master-race propaganda worthy of Riefenstahl, but that doesn’t change the fact that he thinks it’s a piece of propaganda.

I think what saddens me most about O’Hehir’s review is not just that it contains a bonkers interpretation of Secretariat, but that it’s so cynical.  “You could hardly pick a period in post-Civil War American history more plagued by chaos and division and general insanity,” he writes earnestly, “…but our heroine’s double life as a Denver housewife and Virginia horse-farm owner proceeds pretty much as if the 1950s had gone on forever.”  Have beauty, classiness, and good values really been so absent from your life that you refuse to recognize them even in an idealized fictional setting, O’Hehir?  Or have you been steeped in anti-Western civilization, pseudo-college-campus, elite groupthink for so long that you can’t see good values as being anything but sentimental hogwash?

O’Hehir’s controversial review ends with: “Horses don’t go to the movies, and this movie is about human beings, and our nonsensical but inescapable yearning to find the keys to the future in stupid ideas about a past that never existed.”  I’d call this is more of a sobering revelation about O’Hehir’s dismal worldview than a statement about Secretariat.~

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BREAKING NEWS! The second of the trapped Chilean miners has just been rescued!

October 12, 2010 2 comments

Would have gotten this story on here sooner had I kept checking the news.  See it all here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/lt_chile_mine_collapse

This is fantastic news, the beginning of the end to an inspirational story.  Can you imagine the interviews these awesome guys are going to give?  Can you imagine the relief and joy they must be feeling at knowing how soon their ordeal will be over?

Be sure to pray that all will be well, and that all the remaining miners will be pulled to the surface safely.  They’ve made it this long–certainly some Higher Power must be with them!

My Triumphant Return!

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

So I’ve been away from the blogosphere for awhile…okay, for quite awhile…mainly due to my needing to graduate from college and all.  But let me tell you all, people of the blogosphere, I’ve missed you.  I haven’t forgotten you.  And frankly, I could use more readers now that college isn’t consuming my waking moments.   I plan on adding several new movie reviews, some random thoughts on random current events, and a few other tidbits…so until then:

~

Categories: Uncategorized

Yes, I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment

This probably won’t surprise you, but today as part of my lunch I simply had go out and buy a nice tasty bag of Doritos.  No, I didn’t wash them down with Bud Light, nor did I  have a Snickers for dessert, so if this were a test of how effective the Super Bowl ads were then the Doritos ads won by a mile.

My favorite ad was probably the Bridgestone Tires killer whale/bachelor party ad.  So hilariously over the top that I nearly hyperventilated:

My second favorite was the fiddling beaver.  How can you not love this commercial?  It’s a BEAVER.  Who PLAYS THE FIDDLE!  This is bliss!

Some people have said that this year’s commercials were “okay” but not as good as previous years’.  I sure don’t agree.  I mean, come on–FIDDLING BEAVERS.  ‘Nuff said.

So how did the actual game go?  Umm, the Saints won, which was nice for them since they’re underdogs, but bad because they were the ones who got to play instead of the Vikings (I’m from MN yah know).  Plus, I like the Colts because their uniforms were gold and much prettier than the Saints.  And now you know how interested I am in football.~

Proof of the un-impressiveness of Avatar’s record!

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Thank you, Forbes.

Eat this Avatar! 

And just for some added joy, I am not the only one lamenting the clichés of Avatar:

epic fail pictures

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Review: Avatar

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Warning:  Spoilers abound!

So now that Avatar is hurtling through box office history, it’s time that I went and wrote a review.

Little of what I have to say hasn’t been heard before: the visuals are outstanding, inventive, gorgeous, and entirely convincing.  There are fantastic creatures I never would have imagined on my own:  delicate tree seeds that are crosses between dandelion fuzz and jellyfish,  hammer-headed rhinos, horses with aardvark heads, and many others.  Many animals have six legs instead of four, for no real reason but to show that this place is an exotic Other World.  And the story is pure and utter cheese.

Steven D. Greydanus, a movie reviewer whose site ranks among my top ten (see, decentfilms.com), summarized the plot best: “Not only is it Star Wars and The Matrix, it’s also John Smith and Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves and Fahrenheit 9/11, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Rider Haggard, Hayao Miyazaki and Jack Kirby, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest and Battle for Terra, Jurassic Park and Aliens. It’s noble primitives and warmongering Westerners, imperialist and expansionist guilt and no blood for oil, Cortez and Custer and George W. Bush in one fell swoop. It’s environmental apocalypticism, Gaia and the Force, Vulcan mind-melding and fal tor pan mysticism and Disney’s Grandmother Willow. It’s space Marines and military oppressiveness, mystic/enlightened feminist consciousness and interspecies romance.”

Essentially, it’s every single Hollywood cliché and deeply held belief all put together into one amazing CGI package!

Thus, my enthusiam for the visuals was strongly tempered by disgust for the storyline.  It’s not that seeing innocent Na’vis’ sacred places being destroyed didn’t make me want to shed a tear, or that I wasn’t a bit happy that they were able to fight back.  It’s just that most of the way through the show I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes at the absurdly black-and-white thinking of Cameron’s Earth antagonists.  It didn’t help that Earth seemed to be only represented by white U.S. males, and that the mercenaries hired to “overthrow” the Na’vi were U.S. soldiers.  During the tensest battle scenes in the movie, it occurred to me that we were supposed to be rooting against the U.S. soldiers.  We were supposed to be thrilled each time one died.  This was sick.

I have taken the liberty of locating some of the following absurd Hollywood belief system clichés in Avatar:

Natives are pure and live in perfect harmony with nature.  They are kind and gorgeous and in terrific shape.  They have no technology and are presumably very into Going Green.  Animals are considered Brothers and Sisters and killing them is considered a very sad event, yet for some reason the Na’vi are not vegetarians.

White men are greedy warmongering pigs.  All white men in this movie aside from the Hero whose name I cannot remember (perhaps due to his subdued screen presence) and one other guy who’s kind of wimpy think of the Na’vi as dangerous murderous savages and are too pigheaded to think of them in any other light.  Will they consider working with the Na’vi, or trying to understand their culture, or negotiating with them in order to get the “unobtanium”?  No, a thousand times no!  They will consent to nothing but flinging themselves into full-fledged war with presumed killers! 

The perfect native religion is matriarchal and goddess-centered.  As men (especially white men from the U.S.) are overwhelmingly violent and pig-headed, the perfect pure religion must certainly be focused on female divinities and leaders. 

Any non-pigheaded white man who starts living with an indigenous population will want to stay with them forever.   Also see Dances with Wolves.  The hero, who has the virtue of open-mindedness that other white men do not, lives with the Na’vi as one of them, and is entranced by their way of life.  In this case it’s understandable, for the Na’vi live in a paradise and get to ride flying dragons.  ‘Nuff said.  The open-minded white man turns from his own kind forever in favor of the indigenous population, which would be quite a difficult task in my opinion when you’d assume the guy has family, friends, and a life back home on Earth, but in the movie it just takes a moment of decision.

White women are less pigheaded than white men.  The Sigourney Weaver character is a scientist with the Pandora invaders who wants to study their ways.  She, of course, is the only other white person who is open-minded.  Oh, but there is a female helicopter pilot who in the end rejects the evil violent ways of her pigheaded white peers.  Which can be attributed partly to the fact that she’s female.  Which was a dramatic plot twist that shocked nobody and appeased feminists (not that this movie needed to do anything more, really!).

In short, Visuals = Good, and Storyline = PC Mumbo-Jumbo.  Well worth seeing in theaters, but in my opinion does not deserve to topple Titanic.  Which apparently it just did recently, according to the world-wide box office.  In the domestic box office it’s just passed The Dark Knight, which just about breaks my heart, as TDK left an impression on me that Avatar never could (I only saw it five times in theaters).

My heart would be broken for good if not for the smug confidence of knowing that when adjusted for inflation Gone With The Wind is still the top earner, and will probably never be beat.  (Plus, who has made the adjustment for Avatar‘s extra money from 3D tickets?  That person I would like to talk to.)

When all is said and done, should the box office really matter?  (My soul says “It’s an important status thing and you know it!” but my reason is trying to drown in out.)  When regarding Avatar, I can’t see the characters becoming a part of pop culture in the way that, for instance, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia have–or even Jack and Rose.  The Star Wars characters had a freshness to them–sure, they represented archetypes that have been in stories for generations, but they were also distinct and relatable.  Jack and Rose at least had strong chemistry and humanity.  Neytiri and What’s-His-Name?  Well, if I were in the same room with Neytiri I think she would scare me, and I’m not talking about her 12 feet of height or catlike aspects.  What’s-His-Name is too wooden for me to feel a strong connection to.  After all, I can’t even remember his name.

Perhaps I’ve become a little too jaded to appreciate this “film event.”  Or perhaps I’m still spoiled by my first breathless viewing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (truly, sincerely, I have never viewed films the same way since).  In any case, I would only give Avatar a 3 stars out of 4, and I’m am starting to feel concern over this year’s Oscars…~

Hitler Saddened By Democrats’ Loss of Senate Seat

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Video:  Hitler Finds Out Scott Brown Won Massachusett’s Senate Seat

Beautiful.  Just beautiful.

Categories: Uncategorized